Skin Cancer Clinic
Between our specialist plastic surgeons we offer priority treatment for all suspicious lesions or urgent skin cancer referrals. This service is applicable to medical professionals wishing to refer a patient, or members of the public who have obtained a valid letter of referral.
As Australians we have one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Our active outdoor lifestyle and time spent in the sun contributes to approximately two in three Australians being diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime. Although skin cancers are common, they can usually be cured especially if they are detected early.
Skin cancer removal is the most frequently performed procedure at Adelaide Plastic Surgery. Our commitment to patient safety has led to the development of a dedicated skin cancer clinic for patients requiring immediate specialist opinion and management of suspicious lesions.
In order for your experience to be as smooth as possible, we ask that you please bring the following to your initial appointment:
- A letter of referral
- Relevant pathology and imaging reports
- Past medical history and any current medications
- Your Medicare and Private Health Insurance details
Understanding skin cancer
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
Basal cell carcinoma are scaly lesions often pinkish in colour, that can sometimes be mistaken for a dry patch of skin. These are the most common form of skin cancer and usually develop in areas frequently exposed to the sun. They grow slowly over time so urgent treatment is not typically required. Your doctor may recommend a sooner appointment if they believe a delay could lead to potential difficulties in treatment, such as the size or location of your skin cancer. BCCs never spread to other areas of the body although they can occasionally invade surrounding structures.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
Squamous cell carcinoma are another form of non-melanoma skin cancer. Unlike basal cell carcinoma they grow quickly, and can occasionally spread to other parts of the body if left untreated. Signs of an SCC include a rapidly growing scaly spot or a non-healing sore, often developing on lips, ears, scalp, back of the hands and on lower legs. Early detection is important and once diagnosed semi-urgent treatment is usually required.
Melanoma are a type of skin cancer that develop from our pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. They are the most dangerous form of skin cancer, but can usually be treated successfully if detected early.
Melanoma can develop from an existing mole that has changed in shape, elevation, size or colour, or appear as a new spot on previously normal skin. They can appear anywhere on the body including areas that have little to no sun exposure, such as the soles of feet and under nails.
It is important to be aware that anyone can develop a melanoma, however some people are at a greater risk than others.
The potential risk of melanoma increases for those who have:
- A family history of melanoma
- Excessive sun exposure and/or sunburn (particularly when young)
- Fair, freckly skin that is prone to burning
- Past or present use of solariums
Melanoma are categorised in stages based on size and thickness, which will influence your treatment options. This will be discussed with you during your initial consultation with your surgeon.
Screening for Cancer
In Australia there is no formal screening program for skin cancers. The best chance of early detection is to become familiar with your skin and keep up with routine skin checks. If you notice any changes to new or existing moles it is important to consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Our surgeons do not perform routine skin checks but accept referrals for opinion and management of any suspicious lesions. For further information we highly recommend the following Cancer Council pages:
Treatment of your skin cancer will vary between melanoma and non-melanoma lesions, as well as factors such as size and location.
Small straightforward lesions are able to be removed using a simple excision technique. Your surgeon will use a scalpel to remove the lesion along with a margin of surrounding tissue – to help ensure all cancer cells are excised – then use sutures to close the area. The residual scar is often minimal, and appears as a neat pearly coloured line.
If your skin cancer is on the edge of a lip, eyelid, ear or nostril, your surgeon may use a wedge excision. This involves excising a full thickness wedge of tissue, usually triangle in shape, in order to remove the lesion. Once excised the area is pulled close and sutured, and the residual scar is similar to that of a simple excision.
Skin graft or flap
If your skin cancer surgery requires a significant amount of tissue to be removed, your surgeon may not be able to pull the area closed with sutures. In this instance a skin graft from a donor site, or skin flap, may be needed to facilitate the removal of your skin cancer.
Your surgeon will discuss this with you during your initial consultation if this technique is applicable to your skin cancer removal surgery.
Wider excision/further stages
As a safety routine at Adelaide Plastic Surgery, any tissue that is excised during your procedure is sent to a pathology clinic for testing. This is to ensure all cancer cells have been removed. If pathology results indicate there are cancer cells remaining, you may be required to have a wider excision.
If this is applicable to you, your surgeon will discuss details of any further management in order to safely treat your skin cancer.
Further Reading Resources
For further information we highly recommend the Cancer Council Australia website.
Ready to book an initial consultation?
If you are ready to book your initial consultation, please book online or call us to book with one of our helpful team members. We’ll be pleased to help you start your journey.
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